A comparison of rosseland-mean opacities from op and opal

M.J. Seaton, N.R. Badnell

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Monochromatic opacities from the Opacity Project (OP) have been augmented by hitherto missing inner-shell contributions. OP Rosseland-mean opacities, κR, are compared with results from OPAL for the six elements H, He, C, O, S and Fe. The OPAL data are obtained from the project's website. Agreement for H is close everywhere except for the region of log(T) 6 and log(R) −1 (R=ρ/T36 where ρ is mass density in g cm3 and T6= 106×T with T in K). In that region κR(OPAL) is larger than κR(OP) by up to 13 per cent. The differences are caused by different equations of state (EOS). In the region concerned, OP has the H ground state undergoing dissolution, leading to a small H-neutral ionization fraction, while OPAL has larger values for that fraction. A similar difference occurs for He at log(R) −1 and log(T) 6.4, where OP has the He+ ground state undergoing dissolution. The OPAL website does not provide single-element Rosseland means for elements other than H and He. Comparisons between OP and OPAL are made for mixtures with X= 0.9, Z= 0.1 and Z containing pure C, O or S. There are some differences: at the lower temperatures, say log(T) ≤ 5.5, owing to differences in atomic data, with the OP R-matrix data probably being the more accurate; and at higher temperatures mainly owing to differences in level populations resulting from the use of different EOS theories. In the original OP work, R-matrix data for iron were supplemented by data obtained using the configuration-interaction (CI) code superstructure. The experiment is made of replacing much of the original iron data with new data from the CI code autostructure. Inclusion of intercombination lines gives an increase in κR of up to 18 per cent. The OPAL website does not allow for Z containing pure iron. Comparisons are made for an iron-rich mixture, X= 0.9, Z= 0.1 and Z containing C and Fe with C:Fe = 2:1 by number fraction. There are some differences between OP and OPAL for that case: the OP 'Z-bump' in κR is shifted to slightly higher temperatures, compared with OPAL. Overall, there is good agreement between OP and OPAL Rosseland-mean opacities for the six elements, but there are some differences. Recent work has shown that helioseismology measurements give a very accurate value for the depth of the solar convective zone, RCZ, and that, taking account of recent revisions in abundances, solar models give agreement with that value only if opacities at RCZ are about 20 per cent larger than OPAL values. For the six-element mix at RCZ we obtain κR(OP) to be larger than κR(OPAL) by 5 per cent.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-465
Number of pages9
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2004


  • atomic processes
  • radiative transfer
  • stars
  • interiors
  • plasmas


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